Will playing video games improve working memory? Neuroscientists are examining the claims made by a number of cognitive training programs, with an eye to improving working memory in aging adults as well as youngsters with learning challenges. Why working memory? It is a strong predictor of educational success. (And it helps me remember why I trekked upstairs.)
A recent article in Brain in the News (written by Lisa Munoz for the Cognitive Neuroscience Society) reports that scientists have shocking news: apparent long-lasting benefits in working memory when a mild current (tDCS) is passed through the brain. John Jonides, one of many researchers exploring how video games might improve working memory, reports that they tried the tDCS current “as a lark, not expecting to find much, but the fact that the training effect lasts as long as months is both surprising and very provocative because it opens up the use of tDCS for long-term learning enhancement.”
Jonides’ team is now studying two currents “to boost plasticity in the underlying brain cortex.” His goal is to “accelerate the learning process that occurs during game play, especially for those individuals with damage.” This is encouraging news, giving me hope that some day, weaknesses in working memory may be addressed efficiently and permanently.
Sign me up! I am tired of wandering around, wondering what I was doing in the first place. I might even start playing Hearts again!